Letterman's Roundtable

Inside Carolina's weekly 'State of the Heels' discussion with former Tar Heels Scott Lenahan, Deems May and Mark Paschal ...

Butch Davis said they didn't talk about it, some players said they did talk about it, T.J. Yates said they didn't focus on it, and everyone said that, after the game, they celebrated it - the end of the ‘81 streak. Maybe these things are a little silly, but in real terms, what did the win in Charlottesville say about this particular team's belief in itself?

Scott: Silly? Not in the slightest. With all that this team has been going through and continues to go through I'm honestly amazed at how composed and focused we've been each week going into the games. I feel as though every week we keep uncovering more playmakers and this week Dwight Jones stepped up to the plate and made a huge contribution. I couldn't be more proud of the way that this team has been able to circle the wagons and win game after game. We not only broke the streak of '81 in a dominating fashion, I believe we really took a step forward as a team. You can tell that these guys are out there playing for each other and when you have that, you have an equation for success.

Deems: I doubt that a whole lot of emphasis was put on the "the streak" of losses in Charlottesville. These kids weren't alive then, many weren't even Tar Heel fans growing up. This streak was much more important to alumni, former players, and fans. (Many of whom had been to each loss since the ‘81 season). With that being said, it was important to win and win convincingly.

There have been too many horror stories that have happened up there that even after the game I had to pinch myself and say, "Relax, the game is over, they can't come back." This team has shown a lot of heart, that's for sure. Midway through the second quarter against Rutgers it looked like this season was over. Since then, they have rallied and played hard for each other, the coaches, and all of us fans. I don't think there is a team in the country that would be 4-2 right now that has had 13 players (out of the preseason two-deep depth chart of 44) miss the majority of the first half of the season. Regardless of the next six games, Coach Davis has proven that he is worth us fighting our guts out to keep him as our head coach.

Mark: This is a huge win for the Tar Heels. Going to the University of Virginia and getting a win has been tough for a lot of us; Deems, Tank and I have never won there. The guys on this team deserve this win. They have faced and overcome every obstacle this season with hard work, focus and determination. This team has faced more adversity than any other Carolina team has; and they have done something that those 29 teams before them were not able to do. It is very apparent that this entire team, from top to bottom, believes in this coaching staff and believes in each other.

In terms of real news to come out of the Virginia game, the rest of the world got to see what a lot of UNC people have believed for a long time - Dwight Jones is a player. Other than the fact that Virginia may be a worse team than we suspected, what else did the Tar Heels learn about themselves this weekend?

Deems: I learned that T.J. Yates should get considerable talk of First Team All-ACC quarterback and Player of the Year at the halfway point. I really believe that this game was better than his LSU game. He was just unbelievably accurate and in control the whole game. I think I said a few weeks ago that I thought Dwight Jones was due to break-out. What a great time to do it. With the curse of that stadium looming and to go 81 yards on the first play really settled the whole team down. Quinton Coples is playing incredible and our young corners and Kevin Reddick and Zach Brown are flying around and getting better every game. We need to get Quan Sturdivant back and will need our tight ends to step up in Pianalto's absence.

Our kicking game is atrocious. The poor kicking has to be mental and occurring just on game day -- certainly not in practice -- but it is just killing us. With our depleted depth on defense and the horrendous kicking game it makes what our defense is doing so much more impressive. I'll bet -- and I'm guessing -- that our starting field position compared to our opponents is at least -15 yards. Spotting the other team 1.5 first downs on every kick/possession can't continue. With the job that Everett Withers is doing it is sure going to be hard to keep him. He'll be a head coach soon.

Mark: First, I want to say how sorry I am to hear about Zack Pianalto. That guy represents himself, his family and the University with class and will be terribly missed for the remainder of his senior year. There is not a harder worker or better leader than Zack and I wish him all the best.

I think the Tar Heels learned they can count on one or two guys to step up each week, to make big plays, and put them in a spot where they can win the football game. They learned they are building depth, they learned they can count on each other to go out there and play with heart. This win was huge for the program. Sitting 4-2 at the halfway point with more clarity from a personnel standpoint than we have had yet this year is huge for composure and confidence. It is almost like the seniors on this team have said: "This is my time, this is my team, and I will be damned if we are not successful." And they have shown us each week that their leadership and their play has been vital for the success of this team.

Scott: They learned that no matter what they go through, as long as they have each other and stick together they'll come out the other side. A perfect example of a team playing together was the very first play when Dwight Jones busted the play for a touchdown. It was a great play by a very talented kid, but what you missed was No. 49 Ryan Taylor blocking his tail off 20 yards down the field to spring him the rest of the way for the touchdown. I think this team is starting to realize just how good they really are and not only believing in themselves, but each other.

It is still October, but this next game may be an elimination game for the Coastal Division title, as the loser will have a huge mountain to climb to get into the ACC title game, while the winner keeps hope alive. It's UNC-Miami, and there is a lot on the line. Miami may have its best team since joining the ACC and is a seven point favorite – can UNC make it five in a row on the road against the Hurricanes?

Mark: Miami does not make me nervous. It is not about Miami. It is about our boys. You win on the road because you are more prepared. You win on the road because you out hit the opposition. You win on the road because you fly around the football field with a bad attitude. You win on the road because you are more fundamentally sound. You win on the road because you play mistake free football. Forget "swag" -- that does not win football games.

The one thing I have learned about Miami is this: they are frontrunners. When things are going great, there aren't many teams out there that are better. But when the going gets toughm they break down. If you can jump on them early, if you out hit them, if you out run them, if you out hustle them, I promise you they will quit. They love the bright lights, and they love the big game - and that is exactly what this is. But if we can jump on them and make them break, the Tar Heels win.

Scott: Miami is always going to have a good team and has an incredible amount of talent. If we can start out with our hair on fire as we did against UVa and get on top of them early and break their will, I think they'll have a hard time hanging in there. It seems as though Miami has been a bit inconsistent this year and still seemed a little shell-shocked after the thumping they took from FSU. With our offense being as productive as they are and our defense creating turnovers, I think we have a great chance to really make a statement this Saturday.

Deems: It is going to be hard to win down there. They are the most talented team we have faced and LSU and Clemson have immense talent. We are very, very thin on defense and our offense took a huge hit Saturday with Pianalto's injury. Couple that with a kicking game that is incredibly bad right now, playing a team that was picked to finish ahead of us even at full strength, certainly leaves me surprised we are not more than a seven point underdog.

Call me a pessimist -- certainly not a defeatist -- but I think I'm a realist. Can we win? Sure we can win. Keep doing what we have done in terms of taking care of the ball and being opportunistic on defense and we can win. The point I'm trying to make is that win or lose we have to support this team, our chancellor, our AD, and Coach Davis. There are some very powerful people in the Carolina decision-making circle that want our coach gone and are exerting pressure on our chancellor.

Those are the facts. They are worried about our image. If those people succeed in ousting our coach for image concerns then they can hold image seminars in my (and my three good buddies') empty suite next year. Win or lose, don't be complacent; our coach is fighting every day for his job. Nothing has been decided. Wins alleviate a lot of things, but they don't make things disappear. Don't sit on your hands, keep the show of support up. I can assure you that with every win the outsiders are turning the heat up to get rid of our coach. They are organized, scared, and ruthless. We can survive anything as long as Butch is our coach, let your voices be heard.

Scott Lenahan manned the center position in Chapel Hill from 2003-07, overlapping two coaching regimes. Nicknamed 'Tank' for his weight room exploits, he earned the top senior honor on the '07 Tar Heel team.
Deems May excelled at tight end for UNC and was drafted in 1992, playing eight seasons in the NFL. He's since become a fan favorite for his candid commentary on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Mark Paschal was a team captain for the Tar Heels in 2008. As a middle linebacker, he led the team in tackles prior to a career-ending injury and didn't miss a game in his career up until that point.

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